Motorcyclists Need Special Insurance

Q: Why do I need motorcycle insurance?  
A: In Ohio, it is illegal to drive any motor vehicle without insurance or other proof of financial responsibility. Since a motorcycle qualifies as a motor vehicle, you must purchase motorcycle insurance to comply with Ohio’s financial responsibility laws.  

Q: What are the minimum requirements for motorcycle insurance?  
A: For all types of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the minimum amount of required insurance is $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one individual in any one accident; $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more individuals in any one accident, and $25,000 for injury to the property of others in any one accident. Keep in mind that accidents frequently result in damages that exceed those minimum coverage limits. If the damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits, then the at-fault driver may be personally responsible to pay the amount not covered by the policy. ​Additional information on motorcycle insurance and financial responsibility can be found here:​

Q: But I have car insurance. Can’t car insurance also cover my motorcycle?
A: No, your motorcycle would not be insured by your private passenger automobile insurance policy. If you own both a car and a motorcycle, you’ll need to purchase both types of insurance policies so that both vehicles are covered. 
Q: What are the differences between motorcycle insurance and car insurance?  
A: The insurance policies are similar, but the coverage may not always be written in the same way.  Check with your insurance agent or insurance company when you purchase your motorcycle insurance to confirm what coverages are included and what coverages may be added at an additional cost. Other coverages include collision, which pays for damages to your vehicle resulting from a collision with another object, and comprehensive (other than collision), which pays for damages to your vehicle caused by something other than a collision (like theft, fire and hail). Collision and comprehensive coverages are usually optional, but if you finance the purchase of your motorcycle, your lender may require you to buy these coverages. If you make modifications to your motorcycle, you might consider buying extra coverage for damages to custom parts or accessories. Uninsured and underinsured coverage is also available from many carriers.
Q: I still live at home. Am I covered under my parents’ motorcycle insurance if I drive their motorcycle?  
A: You’ll need to read the policy or ask the insurance agent or insurance company, since the answer can vary.
Q: Do I have to wear a helmet?  
A: Ohio motor vehicle laws do require certain operators to wear a helmet when driving a motorcycle, so you should familiarize yourself with Ohio law. Operators under the age of eighteen, operators with a “temporary instruction permit” and operators licensed with a "novice" designation are generally required to wear helmets. In most cases, if the operator is required to wear a helmet, any passengers are also required to wear helmets. Additional information on helmet laws can be found at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ website:​. You should also check to see if your insurance company requires you to wear a helmet. 
Q: Will my motorcycle insurance policy cover me if I ride someone else’s motorcycle?  
A: You’ll need to read your policy or ask your agent or insurance company this question since the answer can vary based on the specific policy language. Your insurance policy might not provide coverage if you ride a friend’s motorcycle or if you let a friend borrow your motorcycle.

Q: What factors are taken into account to determine my premium?  
A: Factors include the motorcycle’s engine size, its age, your driving record, your location and how often you ride. Be sure to ask your insurance agent or company if you can receive a discount for belonging to an association such as the American Motorcycle Association or for taking safety courses.

Q: Will my insurance cover injuries to passengers on my motorcycle? 
A: Your policy’s liability coverage pays on your behalf for another person’s injuries or death from an accident if you were found to be at fault, which would include coverage for any passenger on your motorcycle who might be injured or killed in such an accident. You may also want to consider purchasing optional medical payments coverage. This coverage pays for necessary medical and funeral expenses incurred by you or your passengers due to an accident, regardless of whose fault it is.


This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Mary Jo Hudson, former director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. It was updated by Deborah Kenney, attorney and Director of Claims Operational Excellence for The Motorists Insurance Group’s Columbus office, and Toledo attorney Steven R.​ Smith of Connelly & Collier LLP.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.



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